Dear Mama, There is Hope in Postpartum Depression

THE STORY

In August 2017 we welcomed a new baby girl into our family. It was 3 long years of 2 babies in Heaven and a lot of patience that lead us to finally holding our new baby in our arms. My pregnancy was not a graceful journey. I was told at 6 weeks that there was no heart beat found. I remember going home and feeling frustrated, defeated, but also a part of me was in total denial that this could be happening to us again. I returned to the office a few days later to find a little baby growing inside me with a heart beat. The first 12 weeks were a battle to keep her healthy and growing. I was on progesterone, which was constantly being adjusted based off of my levels that were taken each week. The journey to our baby girl was never easy, but the day she arrived healthy and strong made every step of my pregnancy worth it. 

A few weeks after bringing her home, I was lying in bed staring at her tiny little face. I felt as if I hadn’t slept in years and was praying she would close her eyes so I could take a nap as well. For over an hour she fought sleep. She would close her eyes for a minute and then be wide awake again.

I just wanted to sleep. I needed to sleep because that was the only time I was numb to how I was feeling.

I tried to hold in the tears I felt coming. I felt this rush of emotion come over me that I felt I was not going to be able to control. Then it happened. All control was lost and I cried hysterical tears that came from a place so deep that I had never been before.

I don’t want to be here anymore.
I just want to run away.
Everyone is better off with out me.
This baby is better off with out me.
I hate myself.
How could anyone love me?

I couldn’t understand how I could look at that sweet little face and be thinking these things. I had waited so long for this baby. I had begged God to place another baby into my arms and He did. I felt like the most ungrateful and terrible person for feeling so unhappy.

In that moment I realized I wasn’t okay. I knew that I was starting a war with my body that I had no control over.

As the days continued I started to become not only more emotional, but I was also obsessive. I had this terrible fear that my baby was going to die. I did everything in my power to make sure that it wouldn’t happen. I would go as far as adjusting her pajamas 10 times before leaving her in her bed because I was afraid they would choke her. I wouldn’t sleep at night because I would wake up constantly to check if she was breathing. I would get anxious when other people would hand her around because I was afraid it would “wear her out” too much and she would die.

When I think about these fears now they sound so silly to me, but they really are not. These were only a couple of the deep fears I carried daily. I was always in fear and even when I had a smile on my face I was aching inside.

MY TRIBE

I was at a crossroads.

I could either take the path where I walked alone or I could walk the path with those I love most. My feet were aimed for the path alone because I felt so ashamed for carrying any kind of unhappiness in this time where I should be so thankful and full of joy. I felt scared to share the voices in my head with someone else afraid they would take my baby away from me because they would think I was unfit to care for her. I knew deep inside how much I loved that baby girl, but I was continually blinded by my emotions that it held me back from truly showing and feeling it.

My heart was aimed for the path where I would walk with others by my side during my journey. My heart didn’t want to be alone, my heart knew that being alone was the worst thing I could be and deep inside my heart longed for others.

But what if they think I just want attention. 

I’m here to tell you now that if anyone ever thought that for one moment then they weren’t the right person to walk on my path with me in the first place. This was still a fear of mine, though. It breaks my heart that our world has put depression and anxiety into an attention seeking category. Because of this so many women choose the path to walk alone and it leads to destruction and more pain.

It’s hard to reach a point of allowing someone else into your battle. It’s hard to be vulnerable and honest about the thoughts overtaking your mind. I told myself that I would not be able to overcome this alone and I knew I needed a tribe to fight with me or I would lose precious time with my babies caught up in this uncontrollable imbalance.

I created a very small tribe of people, including my husband, who showed me nothing but kindness, understanding and love. They supported me and never made me feel like any thought I was having was irrational. Every feeling and thought I had was completely valid.

Because I chose to have a very small tribe that helped keep me stay focused and encouraged, it caused me to be quiet in other relationships. As I look back I find it very interesting which relationships grasped tightly even in the silence and those who just disappeared because they weren’t part of a tribe they didn’t even understand. I had to keep reminding myself that I was making decisions for myself and my health and how my decisions made others feel was not valid at that time. Unfortunately this was an extra and unnecessary part that came with this journey, but it has ultimately showed me the beautiful people in my life who stuck with me through it all!

GET HELP

As the obsessive compulsive part of my battle continued, I decided to get professional help as well. My midwife recommended I seek a therapist at Pine Rest to help me through this on a more professional level. This was a very difficult step for me to take because I was concerned of what other people would think if they found out I needed therapy.

It was the best decision I ever made.

I remember walking into the building for the first time feeling sick to my stomach and just praying I didn’t see anyone I knew. I felt ashamed by it for a while, but still today I am seeing this therapist and it has been so good for me not only in my journey with postpartum depression, but also in dealing with other parts of my life I didn’t even realize I needed to work through.

If your therapist or doctor recommends medication to help control the hormonal imbalance that is behind your depression then accept that help and don’t be ashamed for one minute! This is what these professionals and tools are there for!

If you find yourself in any place where you are fighting a battle whether it is depression, anxiety, grief or abuse please get help! Don’t be ashamed for one moment over needing help! I truly believe that everyone could use a little therapy!

There is nothing wrong with needing help. Ever.

IF YOU ARE THERE NOW

Dear mama,

If you are finding yourself lying in your bed crying uncontrollable tears over every emotion possible, don’t be afraid to cry.
If you are finding yourself wishing you were not here anymore and thinking no-one really needs you, you are needed and wanted.
If you are looking at that tiny little face and feeling nothing but an emptiness, you are not a bad mother.
If you think your feelings should be ignored because they won’t make sense to anyone, acknowledge your feelings because they are valid.
If you are ashamed to tell anyone know how you are feeling, give someone the chance to listen and love you.
If you feel guilty for not feeling thankful for what God has given you, He hears your cries and knows your true heart. Rest in that.
If you are stuck in this battle of depression and think no-one will hear you, you are not alone.
If you are afraid to make your tribe small in fear of hurting people, do exactly what YOU need, not what others need right now.
If you are afraid of what people will think about you seeking help, what others think is not important, YOU is what is important.

You’ve got this, you are not alone, find your tribe and hold on tight.

IF YOUR FRIEND IS THERE NOW

Dear friend,

If your friend lets you into their small tribe, listen more and say less.
If your friend does NOT let you into their small tribe, be only what they need specifically from YOU. Nothing more and nothing less.
If you haven’t heard from your friend in a while, reach out and never take it personally because anything you think you know is typically something you have created on your own.
If your friend is afraid to get further help, encourage, but never force.
If your friend is fighting a battle of any kind of depression or anxiety, it is not yours to decide if they are looking for attention.
If you feel at a loss of what to say to your friend, don’t be afraid to seek counsel for yourself.

Be present, be what they need and hold on tight.

THERE IS HOPE

My sweet girl is 9 months old now and I have come a long way in my journey. I can say I feel like myself again and I could have never reached this point without the amazing people in my life. Looking back at it I am so thankful I did not try walking through this alone. I have become a better mom and a stronger woman after overcoming this battle, but I could have never done it alone. Not only did I have a tribe, but I also had a tight grip on my Heavenly Father who carried me through a war taking bullets for me as He wrapped his arms around me and protected me with His strength and undying love for his daughter. 

If you are sitting in this battle right now, hear me please. You are not alone even if you are choosing to be. You are valued, loved and are worth fighting for and God will fight for you. Rest in that today and don’t let fear, shame or guilt get in the way of walking out on the other side and feeling that hope that is waiting for you!

My prayer for all of us women is that we can see my story and others stories out there as a great example of who we need be to each other. We don’t always know what others are going through and honestly, we don’t need to know the details in order to show love to them. Choose to love someone even when you are not in the know and even when you don’t understand. We have an amazing opportunity as women to support one another and so many of us tarnish that because we are so focused on how WE feel.

Put yourself aside today and love someone who needs it and if you are the one who needs to feel loved I pray someone chooses to put them self aside for you.

 PIN IT FOR LATER

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